Mariya Dykalo, Creative Director at Aspinal of London, discusses the company's latest opening at The Royal Exchange and what's new in store.
How would you describe the ethos of Aspinal of London in one sentence?
Aspinal has an entrepreneurial spirit, with a passion for creating beautiful leather goods; made to be loved for a lifetime.
What does it mean for Aspinal of London to open a store at The Royal Exchange?
We were delighted to open our latest London store in the heart of the city in such a beautiful historic building just before Christmas. The Royal Exchange has become synonymous with luxury gifting and we were very excited to see the reaction to the store after opening. I'm pleased to report it's gone down very well with The Royal Exchange customers. Christmas was fantastic for the store!
Can you describe the look and feel of the new store?
Our store is designed with the historic venue in mind. It feels cosy, like a home or intimate boutique. Upstairs we have created a warm and relaxed space for customers to comfortably relax with a glass of champagne or coffee while waiting for their purchases to be personalised. The space is really unique with the beautiful historic arch windows where you can see the bustling city outside.
You mention the on-site personalisation service. Have you seen a rise in popularity of monogramming in recent years?
Aspinal has been known for personalisation for many years now; it's something our customers expect from us as leaders in this field. We are constantly thinking of new products we can monogram, and how customers can have an even more personal service when they are in store, and also online and internationally. All of our staff are highly trained in the art of personalisation and can create something within minutes to add such a special touch. Personalisation in general is getting more and more popular with over 50% of our purchases being personalised in some way.
What can we expect from Aspinal of London's SS16 collection?
Our mood for SS16 is very imaginary, fresh and natural; inspired by classic English gardens. Bright colours feature along with textured metallics and beautiful silk prints. The floral theme has a modern twist by teaming with contrasting leather textures, panelling and unique fabrications. Bright orange and grass green - key colours for the season - are being painted into our best-selling and new handbag shapes.
What are your personal highlights from the new season range?
I love what we've achieved with the Chameleon Tote. A true tribute to the art of personalisation, the Chameleon allows customers to create their own version of the best-selling tote in key Aspinal stores, with a fully interactive design studio online for overseas customers. Created to meet the demand for instant gratification, customers can create and walk away with their unique bag within minutes.
Last year Aspinal collaborated with Être Cécile on a bold and contemporary accessories collection. Do you have any similar fashion collaborations lined up for 2016?
We love to work with exciting talent in the fashion and arts industries; it's something we consider each season. For spring we have a partnership with British luxury brand, Beulah London. For this we have created two limited-edition Blue Heart clutches featuring Beulah's iconic blue heart print. A donation of 25% of profits from the sale of each clutch will go to the United Nations Blue Heart Campaign to raise awareness and initiative to fight human trafficking and its impact on society. We have a little surprise planned for A/W but I couldn't possibly tell you what that is!
How does Aspinal of London balance traditional craftsmanship while remaining a thoroughly modern brand?
Aspinal of London has remained true to its artisanal heritage, making handcrafted leather goods with a distinctly British style. We are always working on improving our classic traditional pieces -.80% of products are continuity - while still bringing something new and on trend to entice new customers.
How have the company's core collections changed and developed over the years?
We strive to ensure our styles are classic and timeless but we are constantly reviewing, updating and improving our core line of products - incorporating fresh new colours and insuring they are as practical as possible. We always look to create new styles that will excite our loyal customers and entice some new. It's always exciting - and nerve-racking! - to show our collection at London Fashion Week where we see how the press and buyers react to our new themes and styles.